Thursday, July 29, 2010

Warsaw

Stadium construction going on 24/7 to be ready for the football Euro cup 2012

Shopping center

Warsaw have surprised me positively. I expected that everything would look poorer and more miserable but everything is in good condinition. Here are high new buiildings, renovated old houses, public transportation is working well and so on. In supermarket I noticed that beer is sold only in half an liter cans or bottles and the price level is lower in grocery store but clothes are sold with the same price as in Finland.

While traveling people have always started to speak me in their local language in Danish, Swedish and Polish. Then I have had always to say that sorry I do not understand. That means that in their opinion I look like a local. In my opinion Polish women look different than women and men in Finland or Denmark. They have a particular face and look very similar with russian women and men.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Malmö

Turning torso from the skating park

I have been in Malmö two nights. My next stop is Warsaw in Poland. I saw here Swedish football match in brand new stadium. I was very impressed of the fans of Malmö. I was able to hear them singing the whole match because I was standing right next to them. Football culture is much better in Sweden than in Finland. I saw also the famous sight seeing of Malmö like turning torso. Unfortunately I cannot upload any photos because my laptop is broken.

I am happy to see that I can communicate here in Swedish. I have been speaking almost only Swedish and for Swedish people it have not been problem to speak Swedish with me even I have heard that they would prefer to speak English if the other person does not speak very good Swedish. This gives me a feeling that with a stay of some months I could learn to speak Swedish fluently.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Christianshavn

Christiania

Boats parked

Today we visited block called Christianshavn. The block is old military base and it is surrounded by water. There are several canals, old military buildings and new flats. There you can have your boat parked to your pier in your backyard. While walking around we saw people spending time in their boats.

We saw also zone which is called Cristiania. The zone belongs to hippies who conquered it in the 1971 and formed own community. The area is totally different than the other parts of the city. It is like a slum and there were signs which advised tourists not to take any photos. Buildings looked ragged and there was sand road instead of asphalt. You could see dealers selling openly marijuana from their tables.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Streets of Copenhagen

Streets

Bike taxi

In the streets of Copenhagen you can see downstairs right in front of the entrance like in the first picture, also windows are lower. Here are also bike taxis. I thought that those you can see them only in poorer countries like India. Price level is here even higher than in Finland. Our hotel is right next to the street which was blooming when Denmark first legalized porn in the 1967. You can still see many sex shops and strip clubs there. Even one prostitute proposed her services to me when I walked that street alone.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Copenhagen

Graffiti

Road

Now I am in Copenhagen with my family. After arriving I noticed that Copenhagen is a great city to ride a bike. There are roads for bikes everywhere and a lot people are also riding by bike. Black bikes are very popular and helmets of skateboarders are used more than in Finland. I really would like to ride a bike here but in the rental place was not any bikes left. Metro is here so advanced that driver is not needed. When visiting a cemetery we discovered that people go there to sun bath and for picnic.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Botellón in Finland

Yesterday there was botellón organized in Turku. Seems like this Spanish event is well known also in Finland. Someone just created event in Facebook and then a lot of people found out about it and decided to participate.The event was reported even in the news paper. It was estimated that 5000 people assisted the event. The police was in the park supervising that everything goes peacefully and not giving tickets for drinking public like in Spain. Just the drinks of minors were poured to the ground. This event is just once in a year and seems like it is going to be a tradition.
For people who do not know what is botellón. It is an event where normally just friends gather together to drink in a park. Botellón was invented by young people in Spain who got fed up with the high prices of the bars and quickly it spread all over the country.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer cottage

Seaside in the summer cottage

When we come with the family to our summer cottage in the southern Finland we meet various different people who we see once in a year. We do not meet all of them once. We go together to take lunch with someone, coffee with others and other gatherings. I discovered that always the same stories are explained and it is quite boring for me to listen because I already have heard the stories . I have heard my mom explaining at least five times about recent activities.

Now in the airport of Turku ready to go to Copenhagen.



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Three weeks travelling

Espoo

I am writing this blog post in my brothers student flat in Espoo. Today I began the travel of three weeks with my family. First I will be in Southern Finland, Then I will go to Copenhagen and after Denmark I will go on my own to Malmö and then to Poland where I will also meet some friends. It so hot in Finland that it will be hard to sleep.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Weed

Water pipe

Before going to Spain I had not seen people smoking weed but In Spain you could see people smoking in many places even it is illegal to smoke in public places. Smoking weed and growing it at home is not illegal. You could smell the weed next to the construction in the city in the daytime, in the parks, in the football matches, in the bars and so on. I was also offered to smoke weed by strangers and people who I knew and some people were sure that it was not possible spend one year in Spain without smoking it but I survived without trying it.

Other thing what I had not seen in Finland but in american movies was water pipe. It was common to order water pipe with some taste of fruit and then smoke but I left also smoking water pipe to the other people.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Exchange report

This post is a exchange report which I had to write and give to my university. I translated it from Finnish to English to publish it here.

Leaving and Orientation

I went to the exchange in my third year of studies. I could have completed my bachelor degree in Finland but because of the exchange year I had to delay it with one year. I wanted to go exchange so much that delaying bachelor did not bother me and the exchange period should not delay getting masters degree.

I had prepared myself for studying in Spanish by studuying Spanish two and half years in high school and taking a few month online course before going to exchange. In Joensuu I participated to the leaving orientation which gave some useful general advice for the exchange year. My online course teacher gave me some useful help also because he was from Alcalá and therefore could reply to some of my questions.

I found information from the internet page of the university to write my learning agreement but there was not any description of the courses neither timetables. In alcalá I could attend to the all the courses during the first weeks to find out the contents of the courses and then make the final decision of participating to the courses or not.

The Host university did not organize any orientation program. On the other hand university organized free one day trip to Segovia which is one city nearby. In Alcalá is quite active ESN which organizes trips, events and tutoring. Tutors are not trained, they were good help and made possible to get to know local people. Tutors came to the airport if necessay, helped to find a flat and so on. I did not need much help of my tutor because my friend came to pick me up and I had searched information before hand. Even I did not need much help of my tutor in the beginning we met regurarly and spent time together.


Living

Before arriving the Spain the most stress for me caused finding a flat but after arriving the list of flats in the Erasmus office helped me to find one. In the list was lots of choices in the private market and also on the bulletin boards you could find a lot of announcement of flats. The rent of shared flat were between 200 and 300 euros. Often water, electricity, gas and Internet costs were added to the rent which were between 25 and 50 euros per month. Rent was paid by cash and there was no problem to get back the guarantee.

The university offered also student residences in the campus outside of the city center. The rent of the residences were fairly high compered to the shared flats in the center. The most of the exchange students lived in the center. Student life would have been quite different in the campus but I cannot tell much about it.


Studying

Studying in Spanish was not easy and especially following the lessons in the first semester was difficult. The contents of the courses were not very challangeng even I mainly took courses of the fifth year but because of the foreign language I had plenty of challange. Teaching was in good basic level. Few times professors did not arrive to the classes without warning us but otherwise interaction between professor and students was good. Email and offering studying material in the Internet is not as developed as in Joensuu. In the lessons professor used PowerPoint presentations which were available in the Internet or printable in the copying service in fair price.

The teaching language in the faculty of business and economics was mainly Spanish but there was also few courses in English. The most of the exchange students in Alcalá studied in the Faculty of business and economics. Almost all the subjects included group work ja final examination. Groups for group works were formed by students but professor ordered that every group should have few Erasmus students.


Freetime

In the freetime university offered lot of possibilities in their sprts facilities in the campus for almost everyone. There was Football fields, tennis courts, sports halls, horses and so on but swimming pool and gym were missing. The university organized every semester football league between teams which were formed by students. This league lasted the whole semester and one match was played every week. I played floorball in Spanish leaguen in one club in Madrid and had league matches in the weekends.

You can in Alcalá cinemas and shopping centers but in Madrid you can find much more. Madrid is 35 minutes away from Alcalá by train.


Final words

I did not get culture shock during the exchange period, neither I missed home. I had a lot of things to do and social life was good. I prepared myself for that everything will not go as smoothly as I could imagine therefore I did not get very frustrated in any point if something did not work out in the first time. I am very happy with my exchange year.

I find that getting to know the new culture, getting new friends and learning the language are the most important things what you can get from the exchange year. I hope to get a minor from my exchange studies and I learned fluent third foreign language which is obligary for Finnish business students.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Back in Finland

Midday in Finland

Midnight in Finland

I have returned to the Finland after being ten months abroad. That was great time but now different kind of life starts with different people. My exchange period is over but I am still going to continue writing.

I snapped these pictures in the midnight and in the midday to show how much light there is in Finland during the whole day. I used the same setting in my camera and did not edit the pictures neither used flash.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Churros

Churros with chocolate

Finally I have eaten typical Spanish breakfast churros with chocolate. I expected them to be sweeter but the taste was not that sweet and some like to add some sugar. Dough of churros is made of flour, water, salt and sugar. Then the dough is prepared by frying in the olive oil. You can get churros early in the morning at seven therefore it is typical to go eat churros for breakfast after the party before going to sleep and wake up next day at two to eat the lunch.

Friday, July 2, 2010

in Spanish family

Machine to make French fries

I am staying my last days in Spain in the house of Chencho. Here I can observe how is Spanish family life and I have tried new Spanish food. Eating French fries is so popular in Spain that people have special machine to prepare them. In Spain olive oil is used for every food what is prepared and the breakfast is sweet. For example bread with chocolate, donuts or cookies.